Saying it’s something he “didn’t want to do” Premier Doug Ford unveiled a COVID-19 vaccine “certificate” plan on Wednesday that will mandate Ontarians show proof of being fully vaccinated before they can access a slew of non-essential businesses and services.
The first step of the plan goes into effect on September 22. That’s when Ontarians will be required to show a piece of photo ID and their printed or downloaded vaccine receipt that be accessed on the Ontario.ca portal before gaining entrance to certain public settings and facilities. (full list below)
A month later, on October 22nd, the second phase of the plan goes into effect. That’s when Ontarians will have to show government-issued certificates that will “include a unique QR code” that can be scanned on phones. The document can also be printed out on paper.
The province says it is also launching a new app that businesses and facilities can use to scan and validate the QR codes. While retail is not included, the app will be made available to any business that wants to implement their own proof of vaccination program.
Medical exemptions will show up on the QR code.
Individuals or businesses that don’t follow the rules could face a series of fines under the Reopening Ontario Act — up to $730 for individuals and $1000 and up for businesses.
Ford said enforcement would be led by bylaw officers and would be “reasonable.”
Proof of vaccination will not be required for services deemed essential, and you won’t need it to vote in the upcoming federal election. Barbers and salons are also not included.
Ontarians will need to provide proof of being fully vaccinated, starting Sept. 22, to access the following: (not including those with medical exemptions and children under 12)
- Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout)
- Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment)
- Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres
- Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport
- Sporting events
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
- Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
- Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs
- Racing venues (e.g. horse racing)
“At no time will anyone be prevented from accessing necessary medical care, food from grocery store, basic medical supplies or other essentials based on vaccination status. This includes voting in the upcoming federal election,” the government document states.
The province says it will establish processes in the coming weeks for individuals with no email or health card ID.
Premier Doug Ford has faced pressure from opposition leaders and numerous health organizations who have been calling for a provincially administered proof-of-vaccine system.
Ford was initially set to announce the certificate on Tuesday, but the announcement was delayed after he reportedly rejected the initial drafts of the plan.
Ford has long pushed back against the idea, saying as recently as July 15 he was “not going to do it” and that he was not in favour of having a “split society.”
While begrudgingly making the certificate announcement Wednesday, Ford said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pushed his hand on the issue.
“A national system is far better than a patch work of certificates across every province and territory in the country. But Justin Trudeau has told us they will not be rolling out a national vaccine passport while the election is ongoing. We can’t wait any longer.”